Faced with a 3rd and nine from their own three-yard line and Washington making a push to generate enough momentum to put a scare in Alabama, the Crimson Tide handed the ball to Bo Scarbrough. Scarbrough moved right up the middle of the field for a 12-yard gain. At that exact moment in the fourth quarter, that may have been nothing more than a sigh of relief for Alabama, having picked up a first down to get out of their own end zone, but Scarbrough was not done yet. A few plays later, Scarbrough once again broke tackles by Washington’s solid defense, and in the process of working his way 68-yards down the field for a cherry-on-top touchdown, broke the hearts of Washington faithful in Atlanta and on the west coast. Alabama, who had the upper hand for nearly the entire game, pulled away for a College Football Playoff semifinal victory in the Peach Bowl for a 24-7 victory that was fueled by capitalizing on Washington’s mistakes.
Two Washington turnover sin the first half led to 10 points for the SEC champion Crimson Tide. Jake Browning, who set the new Pac-12 single-season passing touchdown record in the first quarter, was picked off by Ryan Anderson late in the first half, and Anderson returned the interception for a touchdown. In a game in which Washington could not afford mistakes like this, the pick-six was a critical blow. The Huskies had a very good night on defense, but the offense was unable to do anything against a superior Alabama defense loaded with some of the top talent in the country, like Jonathan Allen (who recovered a fumble and was tough to get by once again). That was to be expected, but the Huskies looked like they may have found a good situation after Browning stepped back from the line of scrimmage on a fourth down play around midfield to drop a punt on the Tide. The punt pinned Alabama deep in their end, and Washington forced a third-and-nine that will likely haunt them for some time.
Moments later, Alabama was out to the 30-yard line, when Bo struck once more to get the party started a little early for the Crimson Tide fans.
Scarbrough ended his night with 180 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Washington had a total of 194 yards in the entire game.
Alabama will now await to find out their next challenger, which will be decided in the Fiesta Bowl. Ohio State and Clemson will play in the other College Football Playoff semifinal to determine Alabama’s next opponent in the national championship game. Alabama has faced each in the last two years of the College Football Playoff. Ohio State, with Ezekiel Elliott, upset the Crimson Tide en route to a national championship run two seasons ago, and Alabama outlasted Deshaun Watson and Clemson in last year’s championship game. Whoever plays Alabama should make for a very entertaining championship game.
The national championship game will be played on Monday, January 9, 2017 in Tampa. Alabama will look to become the first repeat winner in the infancy of the College Football Playoff era and clinch its fifth national championship since 2009.
The season is now over for Washington. At 12-2, there is still more than enough to be happy about this season for the Huskies under head coach Chris Petersen, and still much to look forward to moving forward as the program continues to take strides forward. Washington’s next game will be September 1, 2017 at Rutgers. The Huskies should be able to get off to a good start once again next year with nonconference games against Montana and Fresno State before opening Pac-12 play.